Lake Merritt may soon be connected to the San Francisco Bay Trail. The City of Oakland is actively working to build an S-shaped pedestrian bridge that will start at 7th street on the eastern portion of the lake, wrap underneath I-880 and over the Lake Merritt Channel, and connect to the walking and bike paths near the Embarcadero roadway.
When complete, the Lake Merritt to Bay Trail Connection, as it’s officially being called, will serve as a major connector between waterfront neighborhoods---like Brooklyn Basin---and the Downtown.
(Rendering of the Lake Merritt to Bay Trail Connection. Courtesy of the City of Oakland.)
There has been a desire within the city to build such a bridge for decades, possibly since the 1960s, said Diane Tannenwald, a Project Manager for the City of Oakland and the person overseeing the construction of the project. It was because of the passage of Measure DD in 2002---which saw Oakland voters set aside $198.25 million for waterfront improvement---that allowed members of the city to actually think the bridge could become a reality.
It wasn’t until 2014 that official planning began. Since then, the city has held more than 20 meetings and workshops with advocacy groups, developers, property owners, government agencies and members of the public to gain input on design goals for the project. It has also assembled a team of stakeholders, including the Alameda County Transportation Commission, the East Bay Regional Park District and Caltran’s Active Transportation Program to help fund and set design guidelines for the project.
The city is currently negotiating with property owners to gain rights of way for the bridge. As it’s currently designed, the new connection will go over property owned by the Peralta Community College District, the East Bay Municipal Utility District, the Port of Oakland and Union Pacific Railroad.
(Location of the Lake Merritt to Bay Trail Connection. Courtesy of the City of Oakland.)
The final costs to build the bridge will depend on engineering and design details currently being worked out. While the stakeholders will help provide funding for the project, the city is seeking additional grants to help supplement its construction.
“As we look towards grant opportunities, sometimes they [the grantors] request letters of support. If there are organized groups that would be interested in writing letters of support periodically, they should please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add them to my list,” said Tannenwald.
To learn more about the Lake Merritt to Bay Trail Connection, visit http://www.lm2bt.com/.